Protect your home from 3 big enemies
11/12/2013 08:50:38 AM EST
11/12/2013 08:54:37 AM EST
com/product/smoke-co-alarm/" target="_blank">smoke/carbon monoxide alarm for preorders at $129; other connectable alarms are already available.
Ice. Snow. Wind. They're a-comin' in, no matter how gorgeous or seemingly endless that leafy season was. If you haven't had your furnace inspected yet, it's time to schedule that essential chore. The same goes for those gutters you haven't cleaned out, the tree you haven't pruned, the windows you haven't caulked. It's good to know your home's enemies. Here's the deal: Pay attention to a few home chores now, and you can relax and enjoy the holidays later.
Change furnace filters now. Your house has dust, pet dander and other allergens, and they're all locked up inside with you during the cold-weather months, promoting colds, sabotaging your furnace's efficiency and shortening its life. When you go to buy your filter, check the label on how long it lasts, then buy enough filters to last until air-conditioning season begins. (If you use a HEPA device, change or clean that filter, too.)
Check batteries on smoke and carbon monoxide monitors. If it's been more than a year, change them anyway (check your city's website to see how to safely dispose of batteries). This time, hide a bit of masking tape under the unit with the date you last tested it, or add it your phone's calendar app for next year. Tired of the chirping and false alarms, or just due for an update? The people who brought you the Nest thermostat are offering their version of a
Winter weather often hits at the most inconvenient time. And even if your wheels - like the 1962 Willys truck at Nikki Maloney's home on Monroe in south Denver - is an antique, your snow shovel shouldn't be. (The Denver Post)
Get your fireplace ready for its closeup. When you have that furnace inspection, see if they'll check the fireplace, too. Get it cleaned to ensure that it's free of obstructions and creosote. Move furniture, books, paper and other items at least two feet away from the gas fireplace. Same deal: annual inspection. More tips: safefireplacetips.com.
The sun is your car's enemy. So give that hot new ride or steady old friend a good wash, then rub on a long-lasting wax to protect it against sand, magnesium chloride and general winter dirt. While you're at it, put the winter emergency kit inside: at minimum, flares, a flashlight, blanket, heavy-duty scraper, extra windshield washer, jumper cables, drinking water, extra winter clothing and some energy bars. More car-winterizing tips: coloradoaaa.com.
Watch for chances to trade in old holiday lights for new, energy-efficient LED versions. While you're at it, check out the latest in other energy-saving bulbs; they keep improving.WATER
Gutters — they're the least sexy word in a homeowner's lexicon. But: You've got to clean them out (or hire it done; many lawn companies will do it for you). Colorado's daily do-si-do of temperatures — freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw — means snow that remains on your roof can melt, seep into small openings, freeze and make them bigger openings that invite bigger problems. Also, can you say ice dams? Where these pileups of icicles occur, potential roof problems await. Clean gutters help prevent them.
This March 9, 2010 file photo shows an Energy Star label at an appliance store in Mountain View, Calif. One way to start conserving energy in your home is to replace old appliances with Energy Star Appliances. (Paul Sakuma/AP Photo/File)
Snow usually comes at the most inconvenient time. So think now: Were you tempted to keep your neighbor's shovel last winter? Go get one now with an S-curve shaft to save your back and a nonstick finish that shucks sticky snow. Read de-icer ingredients: You want magnesium or calcium chloride or urea to spare garden plants, and one that's based on propylene glycol to spare paw-licking pets. (Remember to use all of them sparingly.) More on winterizing, including ice dams: thisoldhouse.com.
Water heaters want a little TLC. Speaking of inconvenient? Having the water heater die. Prevent that calamity by testing your tank water heater's presure-relief valve, and draining the tank to flush out accumulated sediments. Your unit's manual should tell you how, or follow the instructions at familyhandyman.com.WIND
Caulk is a thrifty homeowner's best friend. And it should be checked every year, because our climate eats caulk for lunch, and that's when you get that wind howling in at your windows even though they're shut. Check it around windows, doors, exterior faucets, anywhere a line or cable attaches to or penetrates the exterior of your home. Replacing it? Best-quality caulk lasts a lot longer.
Prune now, avoid tree damage (or worse) later. That half-split limb? Those branches too close to the roof? Winter's downslope wind, aided by snow, could turn these boughs into roof scrapers or even roof crushers. Get on the appointment list of a certified, licensed tree-care company now; they are often booked weeks ahead.
Make winter watering easier. Yes, it's a pain to drag the hose to water trees, turf and gardens. But doing this chore can make the difference between keeping that prize rosebush and losing it. So install a wall caddy that will keep hoses unkinked, ready to use and easier to drain and detach when you're done.
Fence yourself in. The ground's not frozen yet. Make a fence check: Pull on main posts, note splintering pickets or other weak points and make sure gate hardware is solid. Fix problems before the wild winds blow to keep pets where they belong.
Analyze this. Now that there's a difference between outdoor and indoor temperatures, it's a great time to get an energy audit. Check with your city, county and/or utility provider, because many still offer subsidies for the audit itself, aside from any rebates or tax credits for improvements.